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Intern Spotlight: Luke Feinberg

“Intern Spotlight” is a series about former CEC interns, detailing their experiences at the organization and finding out what they are up to now. Over the years, hundreds of interns have helped CEC with its environmental programs while gaining useful skills and connections pertinent to their future careers.

Luke Feinberg — recent graduate of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB and former CEC intern — has accepted a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship in Washington D.C., where he will pursue his environmental career.

Please talk a little bit about your history and your environmental interests.

I was a Biology undergrad at Bates College—a private, liberal arts school in Maine. After gradu-ation, I began to do some consulting for Coneco Engineers and Scientists and ESS Group, two environmental consulting groups that work with companies on environmental risk management, site assessment and evaluation, and remediation prior to building. My time consulting showed me I wanted to be more involved in finding solutions to environmental issues, as opposed to just cleaning up the aftermath of environmental degradation.

This led me to do my graduate studies at the Bren School at UCSB, where I focused on Energy and Climate and Corporate Environmental Management. My keystone project at Bren was called the CalWind Project, “Evaluating Offshore Wind Energy Feasibility off the California Central Coast.” I became interested in offshore wind possibilities in 2010 after learning about the Cape Wind project, which was the U.S.’s first approved offshore wind farm. Graduate school gave me the opportunity to really dig into the details.

How did you come to be involved with the CEC?

The CEC and Infinity Wind Power partnered with the CalWind Team to research the possibility of bringing offshore wind turbines to the California coast. In 2012, offshore wind provided ener-gy to approximately five million European households, and the project’s goal was to determine the feasibility of bringing this source of power to the U.S. In the summer of 2013, I helped CEC research the details of such an undertaking. During my internship, I focused on the local, state and federal permitting processes for offshore wind. My partners and I recognized that certain obstacles stood in the way — including public opposition, state and federal permitting, and outdated or incomplete environmental baseline data. We determined that offshore wind development is feasible off California’s central coast; however, development barriers exist. I consider the project to have been a success.

I also assisted with CEC’s Solarize program, helping Jefferson, the program manager, follow up on customer calls. Jefferson gave clear instructions and was appreciative of my work.

How did your CEC internship help further your career?

I feel my time at the CEC was incredibly valuable, and I believe this position helped with my selection for the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship, which provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. This very selective fellowship matches grad-uate students with government “hosts” from the legislative and executive branches in Washing-ton D.C. for a year-long assignment.

What’s next?

In January of 2015 I’m starting work as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow at the Department of Energy as an Offshore Wind and Ocean Renewable Energy Environmental Science and Policy Specialist. Specifically, I will be helping to manage the Wind and Water Power Programs environmental research initiatives and accelerate market deployment of offshore renewable energy technologies. I am very excited for the next step in my career and look forward to continuing to build upon the excellent foundation that was developed as part of my time at CEC and the Bren School.

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